Things to Do

Things to Do in Washington, August 13-16

Arts, entertainment, and fun in DC, Maryland, and Virginia right now.

Illustration by Hannah Good.

Hi friends,

We’ve got art, outdoor movies, yoga classes, history, and more fun to explore.

Saying goodbye to the week (and hello to the weekend) with my favorite gif of the historic VP nom.

Here’s what you should check out this weekend:

Public art: Hank Willis Thomas conceptual art explores identity, history, and pop culture in a variety of media. His latest, titled “All Power to All People” in a nod to the Black Panther slogan, is a 28-foot-tall sculpture of an afro pick rising from the base, its handle shaped into a raised fist symbolizing Black Power. See the piece outside of the Human Rights Campaign building between August 13-28. Learn more about the public art tour here.

Magical movies under the stars: Potter heads can dress up in their finest wizarding robes and head to the Bullpen this weekend to catch two outdoor screenings from the Harry Potter series. On Friday night, relive the fantastical beginning with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone; on Sunday night, catch the fourth movie, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. There will be drink specials, picnic tables, and a costume contest (I’ll grant 10 points to the person who attempts one of those screechy mer-people). Friday 8/14 and Sunday 8/16 at 8 PM; $15-30, buy tickets here.

New exhibit: The Woodlawn & Pope-Leighey House is opening the touring exhibit “Crafting Democracy: Fiber Arts and Activism” from the Rochester Institute of Technology. See the needlework, quilts, and other works by “craftivists”—artists who create crafts focused on social justice (think: protest banners). Learn more about the exhibit, the venue’s safety precautions, and how to reserve tickets here. The exhibit opens Friday 8/14 and will run through September 14; Free (or a $5 donation).

The women behind the music: In the Hirshhorn’s virtual artist talk “Respect Her Crank! Frontwomen of Go-Go,” local musicians will dig into Black women’s fundamental, and often unacknowledged, role in go-go’s history. Hear from Rare Essence’s Tabria Dixon, Black Alley’s Kacey Williams, Pleasure Band’s Waughny and Lil Boogie (who also performs with Bela Dona), and longtime singer/advocate Michelle Blackwell. The conversation will be moderated by GIRLAAA collective artists DJ Domo and Kelcie Glass. Friday 8/14 at 6 PM on Zoom; Free, register here.

Stretch out: There are two opportunities for Saturday morning yoga, one in-person and the other virtual. Head to a socially distant rooftop yoga session at the family-friendly social club the Lane in Ivy City. Past Tense Yoga’s Nicole Ferrigno will lead an hour-long session, with proceeds going to scholarships for a kids educational program in the fall. If you’re not leaving the house, pop into WithLoveDC’s weekly online yoga class from the U.S. Botanic Garden. Past Tense at the Lane: Saturday 8/15 at 9:30 AM, donation admission starts $20, register here. Virtual yoga by WithLoveDC: Saturday 8/15 at 10:30 AM on Zoom; Free, pre-register here.

Stand-up: Need a good laugh? Try laughing among friends—at a distance—at this outdoor comedy show at the State Theatre in Falls Church. Local comic Jamel Johnson will host the event featuring 11 other funny people. Sunday 8/16; Free (seating capacity is limited, first come first served).

Marking the 19th: This month is the centennial of the 19th amendment, which granted white women’s suffrage. (The right to vote did not include Black women, indigenous women, and other women of color until years later.) On Monday, the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission will commemorate the anniversary with a virtual event live on Twitter featuring Hillary Clinton and historian Elaine Weiss, who wrote The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote. Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden will moderate the conversation. Monday 8/17 at noon; Free, access the livestream here.

Attention, book nerds: The Library of Congress’s National Book Festival just announced a TV special that will conclude the September weekend’s activities. There’s an insane lineup with more than 100 writers, poets, and illustrators who will talk about books (duh), craft, and their own experiences as creators. There are big names in a variety of sections: politics (Madeleine Albright, Jenna Bush Hager, Chelsea Clinton), fiction (John Grisham, Ann Patchett, Sandra Cisneros), history (Jon Meacham, Gene Luen Yang), and more. Learn more about the PBS special here.

Watch: There are a ton of opportunities around town for outdoor movie screenings and drive-in theaters. My coworker Daniella Byck gathered them all in this handy guide.

Design inspo: We asked architects and designers to reimagine nine iconic DC spaces with social distance and Covid-19 precautions in mind. Scroll through renderings of the National Mall, Dupont Circle, the Georgetown waterfront, and more.

Eat: Ramen and BBQ? It’s happening. Read about chefs Kevin Tien and Scott Chung’s new pop-up in Arlington here.

What I’m watching:

Two new documentaries released for streaming on HBO and HBO Max last week look at DC politics from very different angles.

The Swamp follows the various maneuverings of Trump-supporting Congress members Matt Gaetz, Thomas Massie, and Ken Buck as they try to uncover corruption on Capitol Hill. Interviews with these lawmakers who claim they will “drain the swamp” are cut with news clips reporting the president’s lobbyist-heavy administration. Much of the film centers Gaetz, who last year became the first Republican to swear off money from corporate PACs, but remains a staunch suck-up to Trump. We see him on awkward calls during which the President spends a lot of time complimenting Gaetz on his looks. (I wish I was kidding.) In one exchange, Trump tells Gaetz that Melania thinks he’s handsome. “You keep telling me that, but she never confirms it,” Gaetz responds. Y i k e s. We see Gaetz navigating newsy moments from 2019, like Robert Mueller’s testimony, and follow him at a Florida event where someone asks about locking up Hillary Clinton.

Yoda in DC?

Written and directed by Daniel DiMauro and Morgan Pehme, the doc starkly illustrates the problems with the fundraising-obsessed machinations of Congress—even if its subjects get a little theatrical. In one scene, Massie says he thinks of DC in terms of Star Wars, with Congress as the Death Star, Nancy Pelosi as Darth Vader, and, presumably, himself as Luke Skywalker. Which means Trump would be . . . Yoda? The swamp metaphor still sticks. The film concludes with a shot of the Capitol wrapped in vines, sinking into a green abyss as an ending credit describes how the Covid-19 stimulus package included “hundreds of billions of dollars in giveaways secured by lobbyists for corporations and special interests.”

On the Trail takes us out of DC and into the stressful world of campaign reporting. Coproduced with CNN, the doc follows the news network’s female reporters—including Dana Bash and Kaitlan Collins—as they cover the 2020 presidential primary. Remember the bungled Iowa caucus? Mike Bloomberg? Debate watch parties? Much of the film feels like a pre-Covid time capsule. It’s the witty charm of the journalists that shines through those flashback-like scenes, like when correspondent Kyung Lah jokes about the time she was late for a political event and had to pee in a Starbucks cup in a moving car. While she’s comfortable making quips on camera, Lah also shares how challenging the job can be when she’s away from her kids for long periods of time.

The film, directed by Katie Hinman and Toby Oppenheimer, digs into who these journalists are personally. Women of color including Lah, video producer Daniella Diaz, and embed Jasmine Wright explain how their identities better inform their approach to journalism and specifically political stories. As if foreshadowing the recent critiques of overwhelmingly white media companies, Wright talked about being the only Black embed for CNN and shared her frustrations with campaign coverage, particularly in New Hampshire and Iowa. When we see Amy Klobuchar face questions about police killings, Wright says to the camera: “All this stuff should’ve come out a long time ago. People run for president, the first thing should be ok, what dumb shit have they done to Black people?” She continues, “if we say it doesn’t matter to publish these stories ‘cause we are focusing on these two white states, then what does that say about the way that we care about Black and brown people in this country?” she says from her hotel room. “To me, it says that we don’t care.”

Thanks for reading! Tell me what you’re up to at home by dropping me a line at

Rosa is a senior editor at Bitch Magazine. She’s written for Washingtonian and Smithsonian magazine.